TFS Founder’s Perspective: The Competitive Advantage of a Planning Culture

Posted January 22, 2018 by Mark Perna

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” — Allan Lakein

I’m convinced that the art of productive planning is largely unknown to many young people today…and many people my own age as well. If we don’t have a vision and corresponding plan for where we want to go, how will we ever get there? This is doubly true for young people on the cusp of their career and professional lives. This presents an incredible opportunity for education and workforce development: if you can teach them the essential skills of planning and goal-setting, you’ve just set yourself apart from almost every other organization out there.

In today’s competitive marketplace, your edge is the planning culture you build.

So what exactly is a planning culture?

A planning culture is an environment that proactively encourages individuals to set a goal, create a viable plan to reach that goal, and continually adjust that goal and plan to further hone their purpose and action. Simply put, a planning culture is an atmosphere that makes planning cool.

Young people today need direction, but they have to discover it for themselves. In a planning culture organization, they’re empowered to do just that. When we talk about planning, weave it into everything we’re already doing, demonstrate how it’s done, and praise planning efforts, we’re giving young people a competitive advantage for both their education and their life.

Instead of waiting until after graduation to figure out their direction, young people in a planning culture organization will graduate armed with a powerful, honed plan of action to reach the career and life goals they have already set.

When planning is a common topic of conversation, young people will want to share their plans with others. This spurs them on to learn from each other, invest real effort into their plan, and stick with the plan they create — ultimately benefiting everyone and spreading that competitive advantage even further.

In a planning culture, young people aren’t the only winners

Organizations that build a robust planning culture set themselves apart in a crowded marketplace by changing the paradigm and expectation. Your planning culture will give future students and trainees a compelling reason to attend your organization, as well as motivate current attendees to stay. You’ll stand out in the minds of parents, stakeholders, legislators, and the community.

So a planning culture sounds great, but how do we build it? The Career Tree® is one way to make your planning culture a reality. By connecting everything you are already doing with a bigger purpose — which is the young person’s aspirations and goals — the Career Tree’s Root System supports the planning culture you want to build.

The Root System consists of Academics, Professional Skills, Experiences, and Passion, and young people explore these areas using the Root System Career Plan. It’s a yearlong conversation that gives relevance to every lesson. Along with setting their goal, young people research the information and resources to discover not just their destination, but also the roadmap to get there.

Imagine the power of a planning culture in your organization, where young people are accustomed to talk about their plan, hear what others are planning, and think about how they will make their plan a reality. It’s a beautiful sight.

A planning culture delivers a dynamic competitive advantage to both individuals and the larger organization. Instead of watching our young people fail to plan, let’s show them the power of planning through an organizational culture that makes planning universal — and universally cool.

You can read more about the planning culture concept in my upcoming book, Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations. Preordering begins February 2018. In the meantime, visit to sign up to read a free intro chapter today!

About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is a best-selling author and the founder of TFS in Cleveland, Ohio, a full-service strategic consulting firm whose mission is to share and support every client's passion for making a difference.
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